(Close) Calls of the Wild

Believe it or not, bear season is still on in the mountains. In fact, this weekend is the final opportunity for hunters to tag a bruin, and my father is planning on heading out. He’s heading to a place not far from where we live. A place where we’ve seen bears with some consistency. In fact, last fall, while he was hunting elk during archery season, he set up camp high on a ridge overlooking two basins. Sometime just before the sun went down, while he was eating a freeze-dried dinner, he heard sticks breaking to his right. Slowly and cautiously, a big black bear that my dad estimated to weigh around 400 pounds walked into camp. He looked around, sniffed a few items, and was never farther than 15 feet away from my old man. As casually as the bear came into camp, he simply moved on, and my dad didn’t see him again. As luck would have it, that day was also the opening day of the fall bear season, and ever since that moment my dad wishes he would have placed his bow closer to where he was eating dinner. It’s all he has talked about since last fall, and if I had to make a bet, I’d put a dollar down that he’s going back up to find that old bear. Getting close to wildlife is a heart-stopping experience—especially when it’s something like a bear, lion, or anything else that can rip me apart, limb from limb. Who else has had a close call with wildlife? —Ben